China and RFID: For Your Protection

So China’s setting up a pilot people tracking program.  Who else thinks this is awesome?  You just know President to be Giuliani is drooling over the possibilities state-side.  Maybe we can up the ante and inject our citizens instead of using “cards”.  Although if you think about it, cards offer more opportunity for the totalitarian of tomorrow.  Don’t have you card with you citizen?  Oh yes, you’re ass is in jail and tortured.  Before you can say “Remember Tiananmen Square”.

The company providing this technology to The People’s Republic of China is a charmer:

“If they do not get the permanent card, they cannot live here, they cannot get government benefits, and that is a way for the government to control the population in the future,” said Michael Lin, the vice president for investor relations at China Public Security Technology, the company providing the technology. Incorporated in Florida, China Public Security has raised much of the money to develop its technology from two investment funds in Plano, Tex., Pinnacle Fund and Pinnacle China Fund. Three investment banks–Roth Capital Partners in Newport Beach, Calif.; Oppenheimer & Company in New York; and First Asia Finance Group of Hong Kong–helped raise the money.

Let’s start where the money issues forth.  Roth Capital Partner‘s slogan is “Doing things differently… that’s the way we are as an investment banking firm”.  Really?  Is supporting the actual act of oppression by a regime like China’s all that different from any other banking group?  What sets you aside from Oppenheimer & Company, another pro-fascist investment corp?  Their tagline?  “For over a century, we have been committed to helping clients invest and preserve money wisely”.  Well, someone’s betting on China’s abusive take on law and order sticking around for a while (and generating some serious cash).  I’d certainly feel comfortable with such wise counsel managing my financial assets.  But just in case, I’d hedge my investment with First Asia Finance Group and Pinnacle, two more corporations willing to get their hands dirty in the mire of Chinese human rights to make a buck.

It is in no way ethical for any of these companies to directly assist the Chinese government in controlling its population.  Let me say that again.  The Chinese government is using this technology, directly, to control their population and the companies helping them do this (and much of the investment capital) is coming from the US.  Every American should be up in arms about this, from the anti-communist conservatives to the pro human rights liberals.  Everyone.  And not just because our own capital and technology is being used to finance China’s further aggression against the freedom of its own people.

Because this kind of fascist bull will inevitably filter back to us:

But rising fears of terrorism have lessened public hostility to surveillance cameras in the West. This has been particularly true in Britain, where the police already install the cameras widely on lamp poles and in subway stations and are developing face recognition software as well.

New York police announced last month that they would install more than 100 security cameras to monitor license plates in Lower Manhattan by the end of the year. Police officials also said they hoped to obtain financing to establish links to 3,000 public and private cameras in the area by the end of next year; no decision has been made on whether face recognition technology has become reliable enough to use without the risk of false arrests.

Preying on a carefully cultivated sense of fear, and using the Chinese efforts as a massive pilot study on effectiveness, get ready for local authorities to try and pull this.  The recent assaults on our civil liberties, the massive use of the politics of fear, and a host of attempts at tracking and watching citizens should make this devastatingly clear.

One of the foundational political truths of this world is “what happens there, happens here”.  Well right now what’s happening “there” is the Bush administration’s wet-dream:  a comprehensive tracking plan targeting every citizen within a test city.  Its unethical there, and its unethical here.  We may not have access to the Chinese government, but we do have access to our own, and to the companies that operate here, and do the worst sort of political damage there.

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6 Responses

  1. Once again people…with feeling…

    NINETEEN-EIGHTY FOUR IS NOT A MANUAL, DAMMIT!

  2. They are even planning to track their trees so that illegal felling of trees can be curbed. I feel its a nice move to use RFID for protecting your environment.

  3. How long will it be before this technology hits the UK?? We have, as you point out, already accepted far too many intrusions into our lives. A totalitarian state is just around the corner.

  4. Heh. I think we need to yell it louder Rafael.

    Gautam, tracking trees is nice. It’s the tracking people part…

    Korova, there is no corner. Really, I just see an extension of the current mix of ineffective democracy and totalitarianism. The expanded surveillance powers just make this mix more “efficient”.

  5. A worldwide police state is inevitable, given today’s technological advances and the desire by a few to control the masses in the name of power and greed.

    I’m not sure that this isn’t a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, although many would disagree. It’s a little too close for comfort.

  6. Brian,
    I don’t see a worldwide police state, but one fractured by nationality for the very reasons of power and greed you cite.

    But we are definitely headed down an uncomfortable path, to say the least.

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